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Thursday, 15 August 2013

Review: Yoko's Diary

Yoko’s Diary is a moving account of a young girl’s life in Japan prior to the bombing of Hiroshima. It is a seldom explored view of the Japanese experience during WW2, made more poignant by the abrupt ending to the entries by the death of Yoko. 6,300 children perished in the blast that robbed them of adulthood and a future.

Translated by Debbie Edwards, this is the first time Yoko’s Diary has been published in English. It was first published by Yoko’s brother Kohji in Japan in 1996, using contributions from school friends and relatives to get a broader view on the effects of the bombing on surviving families.

The layout of the book introduces Yoko’s entries and then Paul Ham, the editor, elaborates on significant issues mentioned in the entries, or that were connected to the time of the entries. Kohji also has allocated pages where he fills in personal information and history.

This book is more than a diary of a 13-year-old girl’s life. It is ‘a faithful record of facts’; an historical document of  value and interest surrounding Japanese life, customs, traditions, and the overwhelming influence of the governing bodies on the people of Japan. It’s a reflection of the discipline, selflessness and obedience that were the ideals of this resourceful nation.

The extreme food shortage, rationing and war efforts were similar to those of the Western world. School children were enlisted to clear the debris of bombed areas and work in agricultural plots growing vegetables. They were like Yoko, who was ‘a model of obedience and selfless duty’.

Beautifully arranged and highly informative, no one will remain unmoved by this book’s contents which salute Yoko, ‘a feather in a hurricane’, but also all the courageous people who lived and died through the war, and those that survived the bombing of Hiroshima.

Title: Yoko’s Diary
Edited by: Paul Ham
Translated by: Debbie Edwards
Publisher: Harper Collins, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780733331176
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior Non-Fiction

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